The Japanese fan in one of the free quilt blocks in this collection of patterns. It is a very popular pattern with many quilters. The Japanese name for this pattern is “Ogi.” Quilts have been made in Japan for thousands of years; in fact, quilting is believed to have originated in Asia.
Quilters plan a quilt using Japanese design principles and carefully choose the fabric and quilt block patterns to reflect the Japanese aesthetic. Many Japanese quilts are constructed of silk fabrics, because of their value and their availability in Japan. The traditional Japanese quilting stitch is called “sashiko.”
It is a bigger stitch than the traditional American quilting stitch, and it uses a heavy, twisted thread. Because of the Shinto and Buddhist religious influences in Japan, patchwork and quilting have great spiritual significance. A gift of a Japanese quilt expresses a wish for a long life. Block patterns may be chosen in order to represent a special meaning or spiritual theme.
A circle motif represents eternity, for example, whereas a butterfly represents the human soul. Traditionally, the use of a hand fan was an important feminine art, but fans were also used as weapons, and fans are still part of the formal costume of Shinto priests and Japanese officials. Fans have a sophisticated, flirtatious image.
These free quilt blocks patterns are constructed by cutting templates for large and small fan sections, as well as quarter circles and half circles. These templates are used to cut shapes out of fabric. Kimono fabric makes a beautiful quilt, but quilters may also choose from a wonderful range of Japanese fabrics.
The cut fabric shapes are arranged and stitched in the shape of an open hand fan, which is set off by a colorful square background. A Japanese fan quilt block may have only one fan depicted, or several. They may be fairly simple in design, or very intricate. These blocks may be arrayed with other fan quilt blocks, or with blocks of other designs.
One design that would complement a fan motif would be a peony block pattern, as peonies are the symbol of women. For a more masculine quilt, a fan block pattern could be combined win blocks depicting carp, which symbolize strength and fearlessness. Jewels, mirrors, brass, and silk ribbons are frequently used to embellish Japanese quilts. A quilt of this type would showcase a gorgeous selection of fabrics and would make an unforgettable gift.
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